Where the Waves Turn Back by Tyson Motsenbocker Book Review

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About the Book:

this powerful memoir, following the death of his mother, Tyson
Motsenbocker retraces the journey an 18th century priest took in this
harrowing story of one man’s pilgrimage of healing and finding
beauty and hope in tragedy.

years on the road performing at sold-out venues, Tyson Motsenbocker
returned home to the impending death of his 57-year-old hero and
mother. He begged God to heal her, but she died anyway. When they
buried her body, Tyson also buried the childhood version of his

before her death, however, Tyson became intrigued by the complicated
legacy of Father Junipero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan monk and
canonized saint who dedicated his life to the idea that tragedy and
suffering are portals to renewal. Father Serra built Missions up and
down the California coast, spreading Christianity, as well as
enabling and aiding in the oppression and colonization of the native
Californians. Tyson discovered Serra’s “El Camino Real,” a
600-mile pilgrimage route up the California coast that had been
largely forgotten for more than 200 years.

days after they buried his mother, Tyson set out on a pilgrimage of
sorts, intending to walk from San Diego to San Francisco along the El
Camino, following in the footsteps of the saint. Tyson’s journey
takes him down smog-choked highways, across fog-laden beaches, past
multi-million-dollar coastal estates, and along the towering
cliffs of Big Sur. And as he walks, Tyson also wrestles with his
faith, questioning the pat answers and easy prayers he once readily
accepted, trying to understand how hope and tragedy can all be
wrapped up in the same God. The people he meets along the way
challenge his understanding of the meaning of security, of what it
means to live a meaningful life, and of the legacies we all leave

the Waves Turn Back

both part journal and part spiritual memoir, and ultimately, a
thrilling and deeply satisfying read that asks questions that will
resonate with readers seeking meaning in an utterly disorienting age.

My Review:

found Motsenbocker’s book to be an interesting account of his
journey. It is part travelogue, part verbatim conversations he had
with those he met, and some reflective introspection from time to
time. He includes observations on humanity, such as those who had
left college and were living on beaches. His story is a reminder to
pay attention to people and things as we go along our way.

the book was published by what I would describe as a Christian
publisher, I would not recommend it for Christians. Motsenbocker
includes many conversations he had with people he met along the way
and that means lots of foul language and alcohol consumption.

respect to Motsenbocker’s spiritual journey, he is unsure there is
life after this one (213/2961). He initially only feels comfortable
with a God who doesn’t exist and if He does exist, has certainly
failed him. (331/2961) Near the end of his journey Motsenbocker
finally comes to accept that his mother is gone. Also, he has come to
terms with a God who can be both kind and absent. (2803/2961) But
maybe He wasn’t absent, Motsenbocker thinks. He was just being

writing style is quite choppy and factual. I felt the book could have
used some editing. (An example: “…addressed to my sister and
I…” (213/2961)) I think this book would appeal to millennials,
younger readers who are satisfied with a physical and spiritual
journey that culminates in an inconclusive view of God. Older readers
like me might rather have a final spiritual message that included
saving faith.

rating: 3/5 stars.

About the Author:

a critically acclaimed singer- songwriter and composer from the
Pacific Northwest. His audience has come to know him as a brilliant
lyricist, unflinchingly honest and an artist who embraces
vulnerability above all. After relocating to Southern California,
Motsenbocker’s first album
to Lost Loves

praised internationally, including
New Music

We Love
NPR. Tyson’s 2020 release
I’ll Make it All Up to You

ranked as UTR’s best album of 2020. In the following years,
Motsenbocker played for hundreds of thousands of people at famous and
historic rooms, including Los Angeles’ Wilturn Theatre, San
Francisco’s Filmore and Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium three times.
Tyson’s recorded music has received millions of streams and has
continued to garner high praise from music business tastemakers. This
is his first book. You can find out more at


Worthy Books, 272 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments aare an independent and honest review.

star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It’s OK, 2-I don’t like it,
1-I hate it.

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